This podcast is part of an ongoing TCF series that explores progressive policy proposals for America’s most pressing international priorities.

America has had an inflated military presence since 9/11, especially in the Middle East. Defense budgets are historically bloated, and policymakers have avoided making choices about closing bases and reducing troop deployments. 

Political support is waning for the forever war and politicians from both major American parties agree that the United States needs to scale back its global military entanglements and set real priorities. The Middle East, many of them say, has occupied policy attention that should be directed to other, more pressing priorities. 

Now the tough questions concern the details: What would a right-sized U.S. military presence look like in the Middle East? If the U.S. military shouldn’t have quite so many bases in the region and troops deployed, what is the right amount? What wars should the United States be prepared to fight? How, politically, can American leaders sell the idea of containing threats instead of setting impossible but popular goals, like entirely eliminating terrorism? What’s a reasonable budget? 

Participants include:

  • Mara Karlin, director of strategic studies, Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies
  • Michael Wahid Hanna, senior fellow, The Century Foundation
  • Thanassis Cambanis, senior fellow, The Century Foundation